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Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Promise

This evening was the first time this season that I went around and live-headed my daylilies. Live-head, a term that many people have never heard.

When a gardener dead-heads a plant, they are removing a spent bloom. Some plants don't require this but others, like daylilies, show much better if the the spent bloom is removed.

Nothing looks prettier than a daylily clump loaded with crisp clear blooms like on this antique variety 'Try It'.

What you'll rarely find though is a photo of the ugly drippy mess that awaits you the next morning.

Yuck, nothing is worse than removing gooey, wet daylily blooms that stain your fingers and shorts with purple and red.

Rather than wait for the morning, I love walking around in the evening and removing the still live bloom. It gives me a chance to see each and every daylily up close. 'Dark Monkey' here was facing away from the front of the bed but when I had it in my hand I just had to rub my fingers over the velvety interior.

At first it's disconcerting to see your garden go from full glory to bare nakedness but wait, look closer and you'll see it. It's the promise, the knowing that tomorrow you will once again have a garden full of jewels.

Different cultivars show their promise differently. The long, curly spidery forms that I adore look more like banana peppers with little puckered kisses on the end.

Some varieties are brazen in their promise, sticking out their tongues in advance, hoping for that instant moment of romance in the garden, the brush of pollen against their waiting pistils.

Tonight I spent a long time looking through the lens of my camera, searching for the promise of what is to come. It was the most amazing feeling, I could have taken hundreds of photos of blooms that are just waiting for their moment of glory.

At the end of it all, the buckets of blooms are spilled upon the compost heap, and that too is a promise of riches to come.

Tomorrow will be beautiful, I promise.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Flowers for Lauren

Today is my daughter Lauren's 20th birthday. I rarely post about my girls but yesterday I posted about Emily so of course I have to write about Lauren today.

Lauren has been a constant companion with me on numerous garden tours. We've been at conventions and tours in Detroit, Philadelphia, central Florida, Boston and many other locations and Lauren won't let me forget we already have a date for a tour in Louisiana in 2011.

Last night Lauren requested lots and lots of flowers for her birthday. Not the standard arrangements that are created by professional florists but my arrangements which tend to look like my garden, a mass compendium of plant material.

When she wakes up she'll find three arrangements waiting for her. One is large and two are mid-sized.

Of course they aren't out on the brick patio but in various parts of the house. Today's lighting though wasn't conducive to indoor photography (not much better outside either).

There will also be small single specimens for her to place where ever she wants. How many of you are cringing right now?

Yes, the noxious, notorious Houttyunia cordata is in these arrangments. Fair warning here, if you see a lovely colored foliage plant with the nickname 'Chameleon Plant' do NOT buy this plant. Unfortunately, I inherited a piece but luckily I have it contained in one portion of the garden.

The good news is Houttyunia's a beautiful addition to a cut flower arrangement. I try to pull out the whole stem with as much root as possible and just chop off the root before putting it in the vase.

Do you cut flowers from your garden?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

When 1 plus 1 equals 1

A number of years ago my young daughter Emily wanted to hybridize her own daylily. Daylilies are extremely easy to hybridize and she had seen me do so for many years. Her goal was to make one and name it "Mac & Cheese" so she chose two parents that she thought would create her perfect daylily.

This is 'Nutmeg Elf', a little orange daylily that blooms like crazy. It was the pod parent, meaning that it was the Mommy.

This is 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' which was the pollen parent (the Daddy). Both of these daylilies are small, of narrow form, have tall scapes, excellent branching and lots and lots of blooms.

This is one of the resultant children from that cross. Since it's been a number of years (my guess is 5 or 6) since Emily has crossed these two daylilies, the seedlings are large clumps now.

Although I will never register any of these seedlings, I also won't get rid of them. They are excellent landscape daylilies, bringing lots of color and joy to my garden.

Somewhere in my external hard drive I have a photo of Emily making the actual cross. When I have time I'll have to go hunting for it so I can post it here too.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Front Walkway

Two years ago we had our front walkway, stoop and patio replaced. We were thrilled with the job done by the masons. I immediately planted up one section with shrubs but left the large portion open because of drainage problems we had with a basement window well.

I tried to find a photo of the area but of course I never took one because it was horrendous. Two years of no plantings and just weeds, made it the ugliest spot in our garden and of course, it was right next to our front door!

Any photo I took in the area I cropped so that you couldn't see the mess but if you peek at the right here, you'll see a little.

This weekend we finally decided we couldn't take it any more and attacked the spot. I really didn't want to spend any money on the area, we already had a Pieris japonica in a pot for a year that I wanted planted there.

The Cotoneaster at the bottom of the photo was there too, we just needed something else to fill in and give us year round foliage.

In the very back of my garden, in total shade were five Korean boxwoods (Buxus microphylla var. Koreana). These had been little slips given to me by a woman in my garden club. Over the years they grew to a nice size but they were in a spot where nobody could see them.

They turned out to be just right in this little front garden.

Now I have to bite the bullet and take out the Echinacea that seeded itself next to the Japanese Maple.

We are also going to mulch well with shredded leaves so we don't have to weed this garden. In the fall I'll add some early spring blooming bulbs.

How nice to have a neat, clean garden in this spot.